How to apply fertiliser to a lawn

If you browse through many lawn care forums, there are always be a great deal of posts relating to people damaging their lawn, due the incorrect fertiliser application methods. In severe cases people have actually killed parts of their lawn.

There are be various reasons why an application of granular fertiliser has caused damage to the lawn.

  • Over dosing or an uneven fertiliser application - These two are probably the most common cause of scorched and damaged lawns.
  • Insufficient irrigation following fertiliser application - Another common reason for fertiliser damage.
  • Fertiliser application undertaken during the incorrect weather conditions.
  • Incorrect fertiliser application methods and techniques.
  • Failing to follow the manufacturers application rates and recommendations when applying a granular fertiliser.

If you follow the advice below when applying a granular fertiliser, the fertiliser will be applied correctly, with less chance of damage to the lawn.

  • Store all fertiliser in clean and dry conditions. This enables the fertiliser to stay in good condition, as doesn't become lumpy or solid during storage. This will help ensure an even application when the fertiliser is applied to the lawn.
  • Prior to the application of fertiliser ensure that the spreader has been correctly calibrated to ensure the product will be applied at the correct rate. Some manufactures have their own spreaders purposely made for their own fertilisers and display the correct spreader settings on the product label.
  • Ensure that the spreader is working correctly.
  • Fill the spreader away from the lawn. This will avoid any damage to the turf should any fertiliser be spilt.
  • Cut the lawn as normal prior to an application of fertiliser. This will help you walk straight and ensure an even coverage over the lawn, as the mower stripes can be used as a guide.
  • If necessary use markers at each end of the lawn to help ensure the fertiliser is distributed evenly.
  • Do not apply fertiliser during adverse weather conditions such as very high temperatures, drought conditions, very windy weather or frosty weather.
  • Fertiliser should ideally be applied to the lawn when the leaves of the grass is dry.
  • If possible apply the fertiliser using the double pass method. Apply the fertiliser at half the recommended rate, then repeat at 90 degrees (again at half rate) from the first pass. This procedure helps an even application of fertiliser and eliminates the chances of overdosing.
  • Once the fertiliser has been applied to the lawn, water it in thoroughly. Keep traffic off the lawn, this includes people, until the fertiliser has been sufficiently watered in. Most manufactures recommend irrigation within 48 hours of application, however it is better if the fertiliser is watered in immediately after it has been applied.
  • When applying fertiliser close to water sources such as ponds and ditches take care not to contaminate them, as many fertilisers may be harmful to fish and other pond life.
  • Clean out the spreader thoroughly after use, to ensure it stays in good working condition for future applications.
  • Keep records of all applications of fertiliser for future reference.